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Sunday, November 6, 2011

NASCAR: All or Nothing

As I type this, it's about thirty minutes before the green flag will drop in Texas.  NASCAR is nearing the home stretch of the Chase ... stock car racing's version of the playoffs.  And yet, I have no doubt that most readers of this blog will be largely unaware that a race is even happening this afternoon in the Lonestar State.  And this includes fans that can tell you what the point spread is on every NFL game this afternoon.

Why?  Well, NASCAR is simply not geared towards the casual fan.  I have strong family connections to NASCAR.  I watch almost every race.  So, what I am about to say in not meant to be insulting.  But, much like the WWE, NASCAR is more about the personalities than it is about the action on the track.  I am certainly not saying the NASCAR is fake or scripted or fixed.  Far from it.  But, it is simply not that riveting to watch 42 cars turn left for 4 hours.  But, it becomes riveting when you feel connected to the men behind the wheel.  It is fun when you know who are the villains and who are the good guys.  It's fun to know the soap opera and the back-stories behind what you see on the track.

Friday night's meltdown by Kyle Busch during the Camping World Truck Series race is a prime example. 



Anyone can see that this is outrageous, uncalled-for, dangerous and borderline criminal behavior.  The fact that Ron Hornaday, the victim of Busch's vehicular assault, was racing for a series championship while Busch is only a part time participant are certainly aggravating factors.  The fact that Busch has to sit out the remainder of the weekend's events in Texas, including the Sprint Cup race, is also a big deal.  But, only an avid NASCAR fan will fully grasp the true drama of these events.

First of all, Kyle Busch is a polarizing figure.  Talented, yes.  But, he's a man that many love to hate.  This nonsense on Friday is akin to Drago declaring, "If he dies, he dies," after pummeling Apollo Creed at the start of Rocky IV.  But, the intrigue will last far beyond this week.  And that intrigue involves Kevin Harvick, one of the premier drivers in the Sprint Cup series.  Harvick drives the #29 on Sundays.  But, on Fridays, he is the owner of Ron Hornaday's truck.  In other words, when Busch comes back to the track next week, he will be traveling at high speeds alongside a man who had perhaps $100,000 of his property ruined as a result of Busch's tantrum. 

That's the kind of back-story that will have die hard fans tuning in next week to see the sparks fly at Phoenix while the rest of the sporting world wonders how anyone could be entertained by 4 hours of left-hand turns.